Hep - can district administration hijack 504 process?

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 5:04am
anonymous's picture
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DD found elibible for 504 plan late last year. 504 compliance officer (principal) scheduled first 504 planning meeting for early next month. Coincidentally, district decides it's time to create their own food allergy policy. We're the first FA 504 in the district, and our plan seems to have triggered their sudden desire to create policy. Never mind that I told the same asst. super. about their need for a policy early last year... Now, I've seen FA policies from other districts. The school lawyers like to keep them very brief, with a level of detail that can't compare to a 504 plan.

Here's the problem-- an asst. superintendent has told the pricipal to hold off on our planning meeting since they're in the middle of drafting the district policy. The asst. super. said that they don't want to commit to things that they can't provide, and they want time to work out the details of their policy. The pricipal said he's waiting to hear from central office on whether or not we're going to meet.

Wrote to 504 coordinator, told her that delaying our 504 process has the potential to adversely affect our child's access to education since she has accommodations that will need to be put into effect well before the start of the school year.

Her line was, and I quote: "the scheduling of meetings is done by the staff at the building" and "...a plan can be developed based upon a student's needs with the recognition that any "how" that is part of the 504 plan may be changed, added to or modified with a board policy that is adopted by the school board". "An existing 504 plan may be modified to be in compliance with board policy and board procedures".

Isn't it true that 504 plans are only developed by the 504 planning team and can't be "touched" by district policy or administrative actions? Are't they totally independent of district policy?

Our state OCR recommends that we proceed with due process. Can anyone who's been through something similar advise?

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 5:16am
Gail W's picture
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Is your child currently attending school?

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 5:27am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

She's currently attending a private, nut-free preschool. We want her to attend public Kindergarten this fall. She hasn't been officially enrolled in public school yet, but will be in a few months. She has been found eligible for 504.

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 5:31am
Momcat's picture
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I can't really advise you on how to proceed, but I believe you would have a strong case.
District policies are just that--policies. Policies do not carry the same force as Federal Laws. The district cannot make a policy that violates Section 504.
Having district policies on food allergy management is a great idea, but it does not absolve the district of its legal obligation to provide access to your child. The Section 504 process recognizes that each case must be considered on an individual basis because each disabled student has specific needs. A blanket policy does not replace the need for a 504 for your child.
Cathy

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 5:48am
Gail W's picture
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I'll be back to post more today. For now, I just wanted to say the if you are even remotely considering due process~
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b]Our state OCR recommends that we proceed with due process. Can anyone who's been through something similar advise?[/b]
that you might consider removing the e-mail in your profile if you have used it communicating with the school district. Your school district is researching, and it's possible that they may find this site and your e-mail may identify you.
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited January 25, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 7:05am
Gail W's picture
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I'm trying to understand and need some clarification.
This school disctirct has deemed your child eligible under Section 504 last year. Do you have the paperwork from the school district stating this? Something like an eligibility form with signatures?
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b]Here's the problem-- an asst. superintendent has told the pricipal to hold off on our planning meeting since they're in the middle of drafting the district policy. The asst. super. said that they don't want to commit to things that they can't provide, and they want time to work out the details of their policy. The pricipal said he's waiting to hear from central office on whether or not we're going to meet.[/b]
Hmmmmmm. . . I wonder what they are worried about that they 'can't provide' ? ? Have/are you requesting a peanut free school? I'm wondering if this is *the issue* that they're discussing. Wondering if the district administrators are deciding whether or not they can/will allow the principal to provide this in his buildling.
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b]Wrote to 504 coordinator, told her that delaying our 504 process has the potential to adversely affect our child's access to education since she has accommodations that will need to be put into effect well before the start of the school year.[/b]
I'm trying to understand this. Can you elaborate? Your child will start school in 7 months, right? I'm not challenging you, I'm just trying to understand how putting off this meeting may affect her access to education.
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b]Her line was, and I quote: "the scheduling of meetings is done by the staff at the building" and "...a plan can be developed based upon a student's needs with the recognition that any "how" that is part of the 504 plan may be changed, added to or modified with a board policy that is adopted by the school board". "An existing 504 plan may be modified to be in compliance with board policy and board procedures".[/b]
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] So the assist super is saying it's up to the principal whether or not to meet, and the principal is saying that the assist super is advising him not to meet. . .
But I guess the positive here is that she's [i]not [/i]saying that your child will not have a 504 plan. But I can understand that you are concerned that they are having pre-meetings and are postponing your accommodation meeting.
Edited to fix those darn backslashes.
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited January 25, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 7:37am
notnutty's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2004 - 09:00

Maybe Gail can provide further guidance on this, but I do know that the school is required to implement services under Section 504 within a reasonable time after they are recommended. As in relation to an IEP....the school has 30 days after elgibility has been determined to write and IEP...now I don't know if that is the same for 504??? Gail do you know??
I guess I don't understand why the school is delaying this process. Is it because your child has not yet started school so she is not being impacted yet or is it they are trying to work around something you have specifically requested?
Give us a little more information, maybe we can offer better advice on what to do.

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 8:02am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Quote:Originally posted by Gail W:
[b]I'm trying to understand and need some clarification.
This school disctirct has deemed your child eligible under Section 504 last year. Do you have the paperwork from the school district stating this? Something like an eligibility form with signatures?[/b]
Yes indeed.
Quote:[b]
:eyesroll: So the assist super is saying it's up to the principal wheither or not to meet, and the principal is saying that the assist super is advising him not to meet. . . [/b]
Actually the 504 coordinator, who is not the asst. super, is saying it's up to the principal. And the principal (504 compliance officer) is saying he's waiting to hear from the asst. super., or central office. And, strangely enough, they've all been copied on each other's email messages...
Quote:[b]
But I guess the positive here is that she's [i]not [/i]saying that your child will not have a 504 plan. But I can understand that you are concerned that they are having pre-meetings and are postponing your accommodation meeting.
[/b]
Yes. They seem to think that they can delay us until they can figure out board policy. But an overgeneralized district policy is not what I want referenced on our 504 plan. It's taken us a month just to get this first meeting set up, and key staff aren't around during the summer to help draft the plan. We want certain things like staff training and a letter home to parents taken care of way before her first day of school. The asst. super. claims that they currently don't have any process for training in place, but based on my conversations with the school nurse last year, that is just not true.
I'm not aware of any deadline that they have in their policies for granting a finalized 504 plan.
I suspect the 504 Coordinator has the wrong idea about 504 plans and how they relate to board policy and has been misinforming everyone.
[This message has been edited by Stephie's Mom (edited January 25, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 9:46am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Excellent that you have that paperwork in hand. Phew! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
Quote:Actually the 504 coordinator, who is not the asst. super, is saying it's up to the principal. And the principal (504 compliance officer) is saying he's waiting to hear from the asst. super., or central office. And, strangely enough, they've all been copied on each other's email messages...
Gotcha. This actually makes sense to me because "policy" = School Board. So bottom line is that the the principal's supervisor wants the principal to wait until the district has looked at the issue from a district-wide perspective that has school board support. The assist super probably wants him to wait because they don't want him to create a precedent at his school that may not be supported, and possibly rescind, by the school board. And the district's 504-C is simply saying that the principal actually could go ahead and meet. That may be true, but why on earth would he when his supervisor is telling him to wait?
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b] They seem to think that they can delay us until they can figure out board policy. [/b]
I hate to say this, but I think they may be right. I know OCR has advised you otherwise, but I don't understand that unless your SD has adopted a policy with specific deadlines that they are/would violate. Or that they have no procedures at all. Have you reqested, in writing, all the SD's policies/procedures related to Section 504? maybe include in your request that they send you 'any and all' materials related to Section 504, including a Section 504 manual if it exists.
Donna's point regarding time/dead lines is very relevant. Our school district's policy, for example, is to use the same safeguards as IDEA (therefore uses the 30 days). But it's my understanding that a school district is required to have procedures in place. Period. What those procedures actually say may be something vague, just as Donna pointed out, such as 'within a reasonable timeframe'.
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b] But an overgeneralized district policy is not what I want referenced on our 504 plan. [/b]
I agree. There are strategies that you can employ to get a detailed 504 plan. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Staff training and a letter home is pretty basic stuff IMO. You have Rhonda's outline, right?
Quote:Originally posted by Stephie's Mom:
[b] I suspect the 504 Coordinator has the wrong idea about 504 plans and how they relate to board policy and has been misinforming everyone.[/b]
My guess is that they are evaluating what a 'peanut free' school environment means (since you had a PF preschool) and what they are willing to do. I think that's what this is all about. I bet they are creating marching orders for the principal.
Is any of this helpful? What would be helpful to you?
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited January 25, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 10:47am
Momcat's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

They may be able to delay until your son is actually enrolled. Our SD refused to meet with us until DD was officially enrolled.
Cathy
------------------
Mom to 7 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 4 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2007 - 11:43am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Stephie's Mom, can you explain why OCR recommends that you to proceed to due process? What procedure(s) do they see violated?
Momcat do you know? guess?

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